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July 20, 2010

Ramping Up the Home Retrofit Industry

This is a guest post from Chip Gaul, Intern for the Sierra Club Good Jobs Retrofit Campaign.

In April, twenty-five cities and states received “Retrofit Ramp-up” awards from the U.S. Department of Energy’s stimulus funds (a competitive grant under the Energy Efficiency and Community Block Grant Program). These grants are beefing up existing programs and new initiatives set to launch this fall and winter that allow households and building owners to improve the energy efficiency performance of their homes and businesses.

New Sierra Club ED Mike Brune recently stated that we need to do more than simply fight the status quo of dirty energy and environmental degradation: we need to promote new solutions. Improving the performance of our country’s 130 million energy inefficient homes (20 percent of global warming pollution) will help curb our dependence on fossil fuels and create quality jobs in a slumping economy and construction sector.

Even though retrofits produce many benefits for building owners- reduced carbon footprint, lower utility bills, and more comfort during extreme weather days- most people are unaware of local programs that help pay for energy-saving measures. Community-based organizations and local clean energy advocates in “Ramp-up” cities can help spread the word about these new programs and help deliver real energy savings by signing up their peers and neighbors, implementing solutions envisioned in ED Brune’s remarks.

For instance, in Maine, where 75% of homeowners heat their homes with oil at an average cost of $2,000 per year, Maine Partners for Cool Communities is organizing canvassing and neighborhood events to teach homeowners about the benefits of home energy upgrades through Maine's Home Energy Savings Program with Efficiency Maine. Sierra Club has joined labor unions and business partners to host Clean Energy Roadshow events across the country. The Roadshow partners create an open forum for business leaders, industry experts, public officials, and stakeholder groups to exchange best practices and form new partnerships to rapidly build new clean energy industries.

Implementing these budding “Ramp-up” programs will help communities enter a new era free of pollution from dirty energy and booming with a clean-energy economy. Read about Sierra Club campaigns in a community near you.


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